[book cover]
The Rock Art of Texas Indians, Forrest Kirkland and W.W.Newcomb, Jr.
1967, reissued 1996, University of Texas Press, paper
239 pages, 9" x 12"

Originally published in 1967 and just re-issued in 1996, this is a faithful reproduction of this classic work, containing 160 color and black and white plates painted by Forrest Kirkland. Artist Forrest Kirkland and his wife Lula, spent many summers from 1934 to 1942 searching out and recording rock art sites in Texas by making watercolor copies, and keeping notes. This volume, with the text contributed by Professor W.W. Newcomb, Jr., author of The Indians of Texas, is one of the classic texts of North American rock art, standing alongside the books of Crosby, Dewdney, Garnt, and Schaafsma.

From the book: The late Dallas artist Forrest Kirkland and his wife, Lula, stood entranced, studying Indian rock paintings on a bluff above the Concho River near Paint Rock, Texas, on a late summer afternoon in 1934. Daylight was waning, but the sight sparked excitement and awe in the artist. "Here was a veritable gallery of primitive art at the mercy of the elements and the hands of a destructive people," Kirkland wrote later. "In a few more years only the hundreds of deeply carved names and smears of modern paint would remain to mark the site of the paintings left by the Indians."

Neither Kirkland or his wife had been exposed to or particularly interested in Indian rock art before their visit to Paint Rock. Now an idea took hold of him. "What was at first merely a suggestion in my mind soon became a solemn command. I was a trained artist able to make accurate copies of these Indian paintings. I should save them from total ruin." He devoted a good part of the rest of his life, until 1942, to copying pictographs and petroglyphs at some eighty far-flung sites in Texas.

In The Rock Art of Texas Indians, Kirkland's meticulous watercolor copies of this rich and diversified art are reproduced, 32 in full color, the rest in black and white. The informative and engaging text is contributed by W.W.Newcomb, Jr., former director of the Texas Memorial Museum and author of The Indians of Texas.

Those early Indians, at different times and places and in a variety of styles, carved and painted their art from Paint Rock in West Central Texas to the canyonlands of the Big Bend, from the Canadian River Valley in the Panhandle to the Hueco Tanks near El Paso. As the form for this art was varied, so too were the reasons for its execution. Much rock art was no doubt born of magical and relif\gious beliefs, or served to illustarte myths, but some apparently commemorated actual events and some seems to have been only tallies or messages. Kirkland recorded it all with consumate skill, preserving for other generation, as he said he would, the often remarkable, always fascinating art of vanished people.

The petroglyphs and pictographs reproduced here, states professor Newcomb, "are relatively rare and absolutely irreplaceable human documents. They can often reveal much about the ways of ancient men, including aspects of life which otherwise would forever go unrecorded, for they may illustrate how a vanished, nameless people perceived themselves and their world, their relation to God and to each other, and their fantasies and fears. They are, then, a treasure to be valued and a heritage to be preserved."

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Last update: 08 May 1997